Myths and Misconceptions About the Homeless and Their Dogs
By: Chole Bennet
It’s almost always easier to place judgement on someone or simply ignore them, rather than to take some time to understand their situation and see things from their perspective. When it comes to the issue of homelessness, there are many judgements and questions that circle around the issue of pet ownership. But, any pet owner knows the incredibly positive effects that come along with having a pet. Our pets are an extension of our family, and help to create the foundation of our home.
For those having to deal with homelessness, the positive effects of pet ownership are no different. In fact, a large number of those who are homeless choose to have a pet as a companion. Actually, surveys have shown that there is a higher percentage of homeless pet owners that other pet owners.
There are a number of reasons why homeless pet owners choose to have and continue to keep their pets along with them, even in the toughest of times.
Unconditional Love and Companionship
For many homeless individuals, their social networks become incredibly limited. When they’ve got a pet along with them, these individuals can create a bond based on love and companionship. For a huge number of pet owners, their only source of companionship and love is through pets.
Pets, especially dogs, show us unconditional love and acceptance and are, by nature, non-judgmental. They keep us company when we have no one else to turn to, and in the case of someone living through homelessness, they may be limited in the number of people they can turn to for support and companionship.
Having Responsibility and Purpose
Pets are almost totally reliant on their owners to keep them safe, healthy and feed them. There’s a lot of inherent responsibility that comes with owning a pet. For someone who is homeless, pet ownership gives them that sense of responsibility and purpose that may be missing from other areas of their life.
Because they give people that sense of responsibility and their health and wellbeing are in the hands of their owner, many homeless pet owners attest that they were able to overcome addictions or other problems. If a homeless person falls back into addiction, it leaves their beloved pet without anyone to care for them. The thought of this is enough for many homeless individuals to avoid going back to their addictive past.
As much as they may love their pets, there are a few challenges that come along with homeless pet ownership.
When you’re homeless, finding shelters can be incredibly challenging. That problem is compounded when there’s a dog involved. The majority of shelters will not allow pets to stay, making it that much more difficult to find housing.
So, the difficult decision becomes either stay out on the streets and have your pet with you, or surrender your pet in order to stay at a shelter.
Pet ownership isn’t cheap, and when you’re homeless and living on a barebones budget, it can eat up a huge amount of any money you may have. Between food and vet bills, things can add up. Providing pets with the things they need can get incredibly difficult, and many homeless people will choose to their supplement their pets with some of their own food, or feed their pets before they get food for themselves.
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding homeless pet owners, who are criticized for having pets when they may find it difficult to provide for themselves. But, it’s important to take a look at what defines a good pet owner, and to remember that it’s not always about putting a roof over their heads. There are an incredible number of people who have homes and choose to own a dog, despite the fact that they’re working all day long and can’t spend very much time caring for and spending time with their pet.
In addition to these challenges, homeless pet owners face a lot of stigma. As Irvine, Walsh and Kahl point out: homeless people are often criticized and attacked for having pets. Strangers offer to buy the animals, or threaten to call animal control organizations. As a result, homeless pet owners constantly “redefine pet ownership to incorporate how they provide for their animals, challenging definitions that require a physical home.”
There are a number of challenges that homeless pet owners face when it comes to caring for their pets, but there are also a great deal of benefits that they’ll experience with pet ownership. Those living through homelessness want to own pets for the same reason as everyone else does, for love, companionship and a sense of responsibility and purpose.
Chloe Bennet is a writer and health blogger at Do My Assignment Online and Write My Essay For Me websites. She writes about social topics, reviews colleges and explores yoga. Also, Chloe is a tutor at Assignment Writing Service in Brisbane portal.